Okwuegbue, Peter Akpogbue
Peter Akpogbue was an important figure who assisted Godwin Ikuasum Okeriaka and Abraham Osuam Osaele in their pioneering initiatives and later continued their work. He was Mr. Okeriaka’s personal assistant. He received his education from the C.M.S school at Emu. b. 1928 Peter Akpogbue Okwuegbue was born on September 12, 1928 into a poor family. He was brought up by his maternal kinsman Chief Wejah, a rich textile trader. Chief Wejah was the chairman of the school’s committee board. He had a great interest in the school and loved the teachers, so much so that he took his cousin Peter to the head teacher to be educated. Peter lived with the head teacher. On his own, Wejah attended the evening school with the sole aim of learning how to read the alphabet and to write his name.
Of the eleven pupils Chief Wejah sent to school, only Peter that was able to endure the rigors and flogging that went along with learning. He also benefitted from the Emu Textile Trader’s Union scholarship in 1943. He was such a brilliant pupil that by 1946 he could read but could not write.
In 1952 he went to CMS College Oleh for a one year course. In 1953 he became a CMS teacher at Emu and in 1955 he went to Extra Teacher’s Training College (E.T.T.C) Warri. He was then transferred from the CMS school to the Council school because the Council owned E.T.T.C. In 1965 he enrolled in college and graduated in 1967. At this time he was transferred to Abbi whence he conducted church services both in Emu and in Abbi. In 1969 he was stationed in Emu Uno to head both the school and the church.
At this time the church walls were plastered and more new benches were made. While a pupil at the CMS School from 1933 to 1952, he helped pack sand from a nearby stream used to mold the church bricks and to build the church. He was the only man who escorted Madam Mary Ibeso and other women when they went to gather white clay from a distant stream.
When he headed the school, he was the object of little or no persecution from the community. There are three possible reasons for this. First, the school, which was inseparable from the church, was for the good of the whole community. Second, his kinsman, Chief Wejah, through whom the church and school had acquired their present site, was very influential. Third, he did not overtly or even covertly oppose Emu traditional norms, values, and practices.
In 1961, he had to face a scandal in his personal life that disrupted his work at the CMS school and church. His wife accused him of infidelity before the bishop of Asaba Diocese who suspended him. His wife divorced him and he remarried six months later. Immediately after his suspension he left the CMS School for the Local Authority (L.A.) School. The unfortunate effect of his move was that many pupils left the CMS School for the L.A. School. This and the unbearable shame of the scandal made him ask the L.A. school to transfer him to the Local Authority School at Umutu directed by James Ogoro.
At Umutu, he proved his calling as head teacher. His work was so successful that the CMS authority at Umutu approached him and asked him to return to Emu Uno. Returning to Emu Uno was not to his advantage, for he had already made great strides at Umutu. Nevertheless, for the love of his hometown, he left everything behind at Umutu to go back to Emu Uno. But as the recent scandal was still fresh in the hearts of the people, he could not bear to stay there any longer and asked for a transfer to Amai. There he established a CMS school and a church at Ishomum.
Following the takeover of mission schools by the government in 1970, Peter Akpogbue retired and finally returned to Emu Uno where he cared for the church from 1970 to 1978. Presently he is a member of the church council of St. Peter’s Anglican Church Emu Uno. He also gave one of his personal houses to be a parsonage.
Jones Ugochukwu Odili
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This story, received in 2003, was reprinted with permission from “The Role of Indigenous Agents in the Advent and Growth of the Anglican Church in Emu Clan of Delta State 1911 - 2002,” a Masters thesis (Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria) by Mr. Jones Ugochukwu Odili.